Hart Beat

What's up with Frances?

Not too long along a nice, older Yakima man dropped by the Daily Sun News office to make a small request. A member of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society, he is seeking information about the history of Lower Valley roads named for pioneer families.

I'm sorry to say that for a time I misplaced the man's name under a pile of news assignment slips. But making my way through my pile the other day, I relocated Jack Lines' name and his request.

Seems he and the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society are compiling a list of information about the roads and streets we travel on daily. He said he's interested in learning how some roads got their names and the history of the roads.

While in Sunnyside his specific mission was to learn more about Price Road near Outlook. Lines said he want to publish a short history of Price Road for the society and is seeking information about Clinton and Aileen Price and their family.

"I'm not wanting the usual genealogy information, but something less dry, more humorous," he said.

Lines said he wants to talk with people who will share any special knowledge about roads in our area.

Lines told me the society has been publishing a small handbook filled with the histories of the streets and roads surrounding Sunnyside. I thought that was a cool idea because while I know some of the families' histories for a number of roads in the Valley, there are many more which are complete mysteries to me.

Take for example Lowry Road. I know the Lowry family was one of the early pioneer families in the area because for a time I worked with a few family members.

But what's the story on SLI Road? It took me a long time to discover that road was named for the old Sunnyside Land Investment Company, which was trying to lure people into settling on the arid land north of Sunnyside in the days before the Roza Canal.

Bits of history like that has always piqued my interest. I've always wanted to know more about history of any area with a bit of mystery attached to its name.

For example, a friend was recently telling me about a Western Washington town called Frances, which as it turns out has nothing much to call attention to itself. It's just a wide space in the road, with no post office or schools. I got on the Internet, hoping to find out more about the town, but except for directions to the town, there isn't anything there.

All I know is the Washington State Transportation Department saw fit to put up a mile post sign in official state green denoting where the town once was.

Here in the Yakima Valley we have plenty of wide spots in the road with colorful names, like Bryon, Glade, Blue Light, Lichty and Liberty. Some have disappeared completely, some are still remembered by their name on road signs. I guess that's why I'm hoping to help Lines with his mission to research and record the history of the names of Yakima Valley roads and city streets.

Besides being fun to know these things, it's nice to be able to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding the names of the roads leading home.

To help Lines, write him care of Yakima Valley Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 445, Yakima, Wa. 98907.

. Julia Hart can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail her at jhart@eaglenewspapers.com


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